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Old July 23rd, 2012, 05:54 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Squier VM Jazzmaster 2012 - A Review

A lot of people have been talking about these new Squiers, so I thought a review might be in order. I bought my Sonic Blue VM Jazzmaster last week so have had a few days with it now and have played it quite a bit.

First impressions were good - it looks great overall. The Sonic Blue finish is perhaps a bit paler than I would have liked, but it's a nice colour and the finish is smooth and free of any imperfections. The neck looks great with a nice vintage tint. As others have reported, the fretboard was a bit dry looking, but I've sorted that out with a quick application of lemon oil. The off-white pickup covers, knobs, switch tip and tremolo tip look nice, too. However, the stark, white pickguard looks a bit "off" to me - it just doesn't somehow look quite right with the light blue finish. I want to replace it, possibly with gold anodized, a tort, or maybe even a parchment guard.

The guitar is very lightweight. Given its size I expected it to weigh a lot more. It came in at 7.5lbs on some fish scales in the shop I bought it from.

The hardware generally feels pretty good. I was expecting the switches to feel cheaper (I had a Squier Classic Vibe Tele a while back and the switch on that was horrible), but they feel fine. Tuners seem really good, and the tremolo feels tight and much better than I'd thought it would be at this price. The one exception is the plastic knob covers, which feel cheap and the volume knob looks slightly off-kilter - I think perhaps I'll replace these.

The setup from new was pretty poor. Intonation was completely off, the action was far too high and the supplied strings were junk. I strung it up with some standard 10s, gave it a quick very rough setup and it now plays great. I'm experiencing no problems with the bridge rattling or any frets buzzing, and I've set the action pretty low (possibly lower than I'd ideally like it to be, so I may end up raising it again).

Sound-wise, it's snappy, twangy, warm, raspy, mellow and snarly all in one guitar. It really does feel pretty versatile. My other guitar is a Tele and it's not a million miles away, but it definitely has its own character.

Speaking of which, my Tele is a AVRI 52 Thin Skin, one of the original run of 140 from back in 2006. Unlike the later Thin Skin Teles, this has AVRI pickups rather than the Nocasters and a 7.25" radius. In fact, the only difference between it and the standard AVRI 52 is the finish and the fact that it has jumbo frets. It's my dream guitar. I got it used for a very good price, however here in the UK it would have been 1500-1600 new. This Squier Jazzmaster, however, at just 255 compares very, very favourably. OK, the finish looks and feels more "plastic" and there are a couple of niggles here and there with the plastics, but otherwise it holds its ground well. Sound-wise, I'd say my Tele just edges it, having a subtly richer more organic tone, but it's really very close. They're similar but slightly different and I suppose which is "better" is entirely subjective. The Tele seems snappier, the Jazzy maybe a tad warmer.

Over the weekend I recorded myself playing some blues with both guitars to A/B them. I've uploaded this to Soundcloud and it's available here:

http://soundcloud.com/user711838266/...ele-comparison

Please, please forgive the awful playing. This was a rough mess-around I recorded at home, originally with no intention of sharing and I was in two minds about uploading it tonight. I have only been playing a year, I am in my 30s, married and working full time so don't have enough time to practise. Hopefully you get the general idea. The running order is as follows:

Jazzmaster neck pickup with backing track
Tele neck pickup with backing track
Jazzmaster bridge pickup with backing track
Tele bridge pickup with backing track
Jazzmaster middle position with backing track
Tele middle position with backing track
Jazzmaster neck pickup
Tele neck pickup
Jazzmaster bridge pickup
Tele bridge pickup
Jazzmaster middle position
Tele middle position

The tone knob on both guitars was set halfway. Both are strung with D'Addario 10s. Both are being played directly into my computer and recorded on Ableton Live running Amplitube 3 running a preset amp called Clean Alnico 4x10.

Here's a photo of both guitars:

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Old July 23rd, 2012, 06:11 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Great stuff glad you like it im loving mine at the mo. Although I am going to put a Mustang bridge on it and replace the trem with a Fender locking one.

Last edited by rattus77; July 23rd, 2012 at 06:59 PM.
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Old July 23rd, 2012, 06:48 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Cheers for the review Sammy. Very interested in the Squier Jazzmaster, Oh and your playing sounds pretty damn good to me!
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Old July 23rd, 2012, 07:20 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The tele is certainly brighter and twangier especially on the neck pick ups, but when it comes to the bridge and middle positions there's not just an ocean of difference between them to me.

It all sounded great.
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Old July 23rd, 2012, 07:40 PM   #5 (permalink)
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thanks, Sammy, I'm interested in that very same guitar so it was quite helpful. I loved the sound of the neck pickup (which I'd be using the most) with a rounded, full, sound.
the color sure looks awsome on the promo shots, but I see what you mean, by your photos.... let's see :)
I still (and now even more) want one of those! 8)
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Old July 23rd, 2012, 08:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks for the review!

I had my first band practice with mine last night. I bought this to be my backup guitar and to play with a different project, but it REALLY shone in the full-band setting, and it took my Pro Jr to a place I've never heard it go before. It could just be the honeymoon talking, but it's pushing hard to be #1.

Here's the souncheck I did of of mine:

http://soundcloud.com/rhythmjones/jazzmastertest
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Old July 23rd, 2012, 09:23 PM   #7 (permalink)
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End of the week, gonna be mines. Oly white all the way. Then I think its gonna be either the fiesta red mustang or the wrhb Tele.
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Old July 24th, 2012, 04:14 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffBeck View Post
The tele is certainly brighter and twangier especially on the neck pick ups, but when it comes to the bridge and middle positions there's not just an ocean of difference between them to me.

It all sounded great.
I know, I was aware of the fact that the Tele and Jazzmaster were quite similar sounding guitars before I bought it and that was one of the attractions really - I wanted something in the same ballpark, but with a different feel, and that's what the Jazzmaster represents.

I'm really surprised at how close it sounds to a guitar that cost 3 times the price, though. These VMs really do represent excellent value for money. I'll certainly be hanging onto my Tele, but this JM makes an excellent little brother to complement it.
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Old July 24th, 2012, 04:35 AM   #9 (permalink)
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thanx, great review! I enjoyed the sound bites as well.
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Old July 24th, 2012, 07:13 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I played a VMJM a couple of days ago. Instant Gas and the price is to good to be true. I love the action on the floating bar, very smooth and perfect for the surf thing.
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Old July 24th, 2012, 07:43 AM   #11 (permalink)
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How are the necks on these?
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Old July 24th, 2012, 08:01 AM   #12 (permalink)
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How are the necks on these?
I'm afraid I'm never very good at comparing necks.

It feels almost as "full" as my 52RI Tele, but perhaps a tad slimmer. It feels fatter and more substantial than the CV Tele I used to have. No idea about shape, etc. The radius is 9.5". The back of the neck is quite glossy and I'd imagine it could get sticky if your hands are sweaty. It looks well-made and solidly put-together, and now I've oiled the fretboard it looks and feels good. The frets themselves are great.
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Old July 24th, 2012, 09:46 AM   #13 (permalink)
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A couple things to remember..this 'New' version of the VM Jazzmaster, does share some Identical parts with the orginal VM Jazzmaster from a year ago...such as the same neck and Pickups. Tons of reviews about the necks and video demos of the sound/pickups from the last version a year ago..nothing new in that department for sure.

The new one's features Basswood while the older version is Alder...(Basswood is the prefered wood of Jeff Beck) if that means anything I would think that the Basswood offering, would offer a little different tone coupled with ALL the circuit switches it has unlike it's stripped down brother

Here are the output ratings for the pickups..the Bridge pup is hot

Neck is 6.57
Bridge is 11.29
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Old July 24th, 2012, 10:58 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Thanks for the review! GASing badly for one of these.
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Old July 24th, 2012, 11:03 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Got the Jag a few days ago, and I love it! These guitars are a real steal at this price
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Old July 24th, 2012, 12:13 PM   #16 (permalink)
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How are the necks on these?
Might be wrong but the fretboard felt wider than any of my teles.
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Old July 24th, 2012, 01:56 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Thanks for the review - you talked me into ordering one.

I was originally looking for the blue but you are right, it's paler in person than in the stock photos - plus it's out of stock most places I looked. I went with the sunburst.
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Old July 24th, 2012, 05:00 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Thanks for the great review. It was very useful to hear difference between jazzmaster and tele.

Last edited by backinthefun; July 24th, 2012 at 05:44 PM.
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Old July 25th, 2012, 11:41 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joaopazguitar View Post
thanks, Sammy, I'm interested in that very same guitar so it was quite helpful. I loved the sound of the neck pickup (which I'd be using the most) with a rounded, full, sound.
the color sure looks awsome on the promo shots, but I see what you mean, by your photos.... let's see :)
I still (and now even more) want one of those! 8)
To be honest, the colour probably looks a bit more washed-out than it should in my photo because I used a pretty powerful flash in a dark room.

This is another photo, also of my exact guitar, which is probably a bit more realistic:

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Old September 12th, 2012, 11:10 AM   #20 (permalink)
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OK, done some more work on my guitar.

This is my first ever attempt at spraying or refinishing and I've made a few mistakes (and learnt a lot!) along the way - unfortunately I had to strip back and start again a couple of times so it's taken longer than anticipated.

A while back I bought a book named Fender: The Golden Age 1946-1970. This photo is in the cover:



I decided the guitar on the right was the most beautiful Jazzmaster, and perhaps guitar, I had ever seen. I decided to see if I could get my VM to look similar. First I bought a Fender Mint Green guard and fitted it.



Next, I bought nitro (Sonic Blue, tinted gloss and clear gloss) from here:

http://www.manchesterguitartech.co.uk/

It's expensive, but the product is good. I sprayed the Sonic Blue first and, as expected, it's quite a bit bluer than the VM body, which is much greener. So, I sprayed a few very light mist coats of the tinted gloss on top and, to my relief, the match is dead on! It really does look perfectly matched. Quite a few people online have speculated that the VM Sonic Blue is lighter than the usual Fender Sonic Blue. I think this proves that theory wrong - the VM is simply a vintage tinted Sonic Blue.

I sealed it with a couple of coats of clear and put the decal on, which I bought from here:

http://www.croxguitars.com/

Again, a touch on the expensive side, but the product is good. I haven't glossed over the decal, I'm going to leave it on top of the clear coat.

Here are the results:







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